Growing The Half-Acre Habitat

Antique Roses and Native Plants

It’s been a long day, and I’m beat. But the yard is really starting to wake up, so here is what’s in bloom this week.

Since the overwhelming goal of my gardening efforts is to make a happy habitat for all the animals that live here (including those of us with two legs), I have some plants that serve no purpose other than they are, to my eye, beautiful.

Like my antique roses. These are ancient, hardy roses that grow neglected in cemeteries and along fence rows, that nobody waters or prunes, and are all well adapted to grow and bloom with zero care. Zero care is sort of a specialty of mine.

Like this Mutabilis rose. It goes back to before 1894, blooms from spring to fall, and has beautiful flowers that start pale pink (like this one), and then get darker and darker until they turn crimson. I just planted this one a few weeks ago, and this is the first bloom.

Then there is Peggy Martin, the so-called Katrina rose. They call it that because a woman who had a huge rose garden had to evacuate because of Katrina, and her yard was underwater for two weeks. When the water went down, the only thing still alive was her Peggy Martin rose. If it won’t die with being underwater for two weeks, I am unlikely to kill it.

It’s a vigorous climbing rose, so I planted it at the corner of the vegetable garden, so it can run along the fence. I planted it over the winter, and it is blooming galore. The blooms fade fairly quickly in the hot sun, but more just come along.

Also, I planted it before I finished the fence, because of lumber prices. But now it’s starting to grow, and I have to hurry up and finish the fence to have something to trellis it on.

This rose isn’t an antique but is extremely special. When The Boy lived with us in 2020, he loved the color orange. We were in Kroger, back before the pandemic, and he saw a “miniature” rose with orange blooms in a pot in the floral department. He wanted it so bad. We bought it and planted it in one of the flower beds.

The whole time he lived with us, he watched it like a hawk, with near-daily reports to us on the blooms that appeared. When we planted it, I didn’t have high hopes of its survival. Such plants are usually pretty tender, sold to folks who manage to kill them pretty quickly. But he liked it, and it was less than $10, so why not risk it? Well, it survived the two winters since and is now in full bloom and I miss that kid something fierce right now.

Because of reasons, I didn’t put in a spring vegetable garden this year (lumber prices, for me to finish the raised beds, mainly). It’s not a huge deal – we can plant tomatoes here as late as the end of August and still get a crop. But anyway, the sage in my herb garden is blooming.

I love coneflowers. These are all varieties of purple echinacea or Purple Coneflower. Yes, one of them is white. It’s a variety bred for that trait. Coneflowers are native here, which means the pollinators love them and they are near bulletproof, but there are some native plant types that will lecture you about planting native plants that are bred to purpose (so-called nativars), like my white Purple Coneflowers. But we won’t invite those people over, anyway.

Not quite open yet, but it’s coming!
A white Purple Coneflower.
The pure species, with some tickseed in bloom behind it, and a slew of rudbeckia seedlings.

I need to do a whole post on our chickens. But here is our coop – my Mom says it’s the nicest chicken coop she has ever seen, but to be fair, she doesn’t get out much.

Last fall, a new neighbor moved in next door and cut down all the trees in his front yard. (I have opinions about this, but that’s another post). As a result, the whole north half of my front yard is now in full sun, so I put in blackberries and blueberries, among other things.

Ms. June is an 89-year-old lady who lives up the street, and who has an amazing shade garden in her backyard. She gave me these Indian Pinks, which are just showing out. I don’t have a good picture of it, but I also got a Japanese maple from here, which the Indian pinks are planted under. In 4-5 years, that’s gonna be nice.

Thank you for reading. This website is free and ad-free because of the support of my readers. Or, if you want to say thanks for this post, you can just buy me a cup of coffee.
  • Diana Kinder
    May 8, 2022 at 9:42 am

    Love checking out your flowers. I’m assuming the last photo above with the red leaves? and little yellow flowers are the Indian Pinks. Very interesting. I have planted a few things lately, offerings from a local nursery. However, one of our most interesting plants has a backstory, so I hope I can tell it without using too much space. My husband and I have two homes — one mine, one his. We’re still “newlyweds” (10 years!) Neither of us wanted to sell our house, so we go back and forth from my house, Illinois “suburb” of St. Louis to his house, SE Missouri (aka SEMO.) Recently on going to the SEMO house we discovered that we had accidentally left a nice Vidalia onion in the fridge veggie drawer. It had started sprouting leaf stalks. We rescue forlorn cats, so why not onions. Tony named our discovery “Brian the Onion.” We put him in a flower pot and took him to my house. He thrived, eventually making about 4 little onion bulbs in his pot. So when I was planting my purchased flowers, Tony suggested we plant Brian the Onion in a likely spot by the mailbox. Brian is thriving. We gave him a garden ornament overseer which Tony named Dufus. Obviously, Tony isK good at coming up with names. I used to name my cars, but I have quit doing that because it makes selling the car very emotionally difficult.

  • Hugh
    May 9, 2022 at 7:44 am

    I love the idea of rescue onions!